Goonzy Magoo Records/Self-Produced
CD: 11 Songs, 42:01 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Rock, Blues Rock
True confession: As soon as I looked at the cover of Kansas-based Jim Vegas’ fourth release, Soul Shattered Sister, I thought, “Rock album. Next.” My gut instincts were both right and wrong. Yes, this is primarily a rock album. No, blues lovers shouldn’t ignore it by any means. Why not? For one thing, its eleven original tracks feature clever songwriting and melodies that are catchier than a cold in winter. Secondly, it strikes a perfect three-way balance between blues, pure rock and jazz, especially on songs such as “Till the Whole Thing Blows” and “Not That Strong” (reviewed below). To top it all off, Jim Vegas sounds like the late, great Tom Petty, one of the greatest R&R artists of all time.
There may not be any eight-bar or twelve-bar tunes here, but those aren’t what Mr. Vegas – real name Brad Conner – specializes in. On his website, he characterizes his music as “alternative blues with an emphasis on the song.” In this particular case, “alternative blues” is not like “alternative facts.” It’s the real blues-rock deal, folks.
His online biography states, “JIM VEGAS was born and raised in Colorado. First learning to play the guitar after hearing a B.B. King album as a teenager, his world was soon filled with pictures painted with sound by artists such as Muddy Waters, Otis Redding, Kenny Burrell, Albert King, Morphine, Howlin’ Wolf, Miles Davis, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and countless others. Through years of instruction…live performance & practice, Mr. Vegas has become adept in many different musical styles and on several traditional instruments…as well as some not so widely used.” While constantly striving for good musicianship, he has always considered songwriting to be a more important craft than technical acrobatics. In fact, his music is as influenced by writers and poets as it is by the masters of American music.”
Along with Jim Vegas on vocals, guitar, and various other instruments are Luke Young on sax and clarinet, Sam Young on bass, Philip Holmes on drums, and Carter Green on drums and various percussion instruments.
Track 03: “Till the Whole Thing Blows” – No matter how hard people try to keep their cool in tough situations, everyone has their breaking point. Our disillusioned narrator does, too. “When I was young, I really did believe everything could work out if you followed your dreams. But the world is rusted out here, and I finally know it’s just a matter of time till the whole thing blows.” Check out the sultry saxophone by Luke Young, cozily coupled with Jim Vegas’ gritty guitar.
Track 04: “Not That Strong” – With a perennial mid-tempo blues beat and slide guitar to die for, this song’s title proves that its subject can resist anything except temptation. Telling a timeworn tale of being seduced and then scrapped, it’s one that almost all of us can relate to at some point. “Not That Strong” is surely the most traditional blues track on the album.
Track 07: “Fairweather Friend” – Consider this the flip side of the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.” Oftentimes, toxic relationships are better ended than mended. With an oeuvre that puts the Fab Four’s song in mind, it sneers, “Sayonara, now. No way to work it out.” It’s edgy and hip.
Consider Soul Shattered Sister one of the finest rock releases of the year, if not blues!